Feature from the Fall issue: David Bowman. Tree Fallen From.

16 Aug

The Tree Fallen From

We knew bats were in the attic, leather-winged flutters
and high-pitched whistles – radar through the rafters.
Our whole upstairs bat shit crazy as it were.
We crushed ants crawling across the kitchen sink
into nooks and cabinets in search of sweeter things.
Ignored ghosts under beds, monsters in the closets,
cracks on sidewalks, sticks and stones and busted bones
squally drafts of wit and what not darted through
web-laced windows cosmic caulked in prayer.
Winds of debt outside knock knocking – relentless pests.
Roof holes, half-dollar sized where rain and whiskey’s solar
promise poured in. Sunshine shaded by sin, thinned light
thickened the gruel, in nourishment the preacher needed
us more than we hymn. How his moan and testament light
shone to expose our soft-heated house in flannel failed faith.
Each room somber in air glossed gas and bowel beer dust.
Squeaky screen doors, paint peeled porches – front and back.
Stair cracked fissures where even risers whined and wobbled.
Grass, so high and lazy weeds, loafers we wouldn’t cut it
for months at a time. Chores we ignored and no one cared
too much for work anyways. Hay fields dashed, reaped in woe
baled back to bundle our sadly wasted seasons in sunshine.
A crop of chaos harvested and the barn tilted towards Toledo.
Our playground forest gilded thickets of bickerbush and chokeberry.
Worries fertilized our roots – a path trod farther down along
the family tree where limbs were lashed, bitten by cruel breezes
and reckless seeds, solid wood- hued by misfortune and booze.
O how we sang…

Head, shoulders, knees and toes
Head, shoulders, knees and toes
knees and toes.

The whole fam damnly. Gouted ghosts-
Who would snap the daisy chain?
Who would whistle warning, who?
Who to salve the sore, oozing pure poison – pain?
On a torn couch wove in scratch and itch, fiber
of a wide wale madness, Tee-Vee-Scolosis trained our eyeballs
to love such blindness. Faces stained with idiot smiles-
welcome to our living room. Is there any more beer?
Have I told you it was dim in there? Well it was.
Lullaby’s of milk and cookies to make us children sleep
a bit better, lids gum-gritted in ignorant dreams
distant ones. Pilsner rivers poured though my Pappy’s
bladder – pounds of piss like rhino rain.
Now go to sleep…
Rock a bye baby, on the treetop
Rock a bye baby, on the treetop.

Mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, cousins, and kin-
leaves blowing from this tree falling into past piles
ashes spread about – before us curled photos
sepia-stained in a horror of who’s who shuttered
in the family’s album – a brown embrace of rot.
For whatever reason these determined roots sunk
deep in purchase, sick soil, drought laced and wrapped
themselves round a rock-steeped well hole, a nightmare-
the bottom seemingly endless. Hardness of water
brown liquor wetting our blue genes, our difficult gulp
and swallow that washed down fatty gray gravy gruel,
a taste our tummy’s turned its head to, choked, gagged,
but got use to, sometimes a quiet satisfied belch.
Sometimes we asked for more.

It was that which started the war within us.
More. But there was none to give. The view
from those drafty windows just one more spit and shine
where sunlight was allowed to intrude on our crooked world
yet encouraged whiskey roots to sink further down entwining
us in its awful thunder fuel and splitting a sap-filled tree.

Ring around the rosies
Ring around the rosies
A pocketful of posies
nothing more.
Ashes to ashes
we all fall down.

Lightning licked our family tree
brought it down in a crash of corpses.
Battles were fought in detox- winners took all
We cut our losses, we cut what we could – hard
wood in cords and waste hewed pith pine branch
stripped the beetle-bit bark, limbs sticky as one
would guess thick in sap and gooey, although
knotted and gnarled it sawed straighter – stronger
sober enough to build on a higher hill.
If we could only find that promised plot
where the first few seeds of hope were sown.

3 Responses to “Feature from the Fall issue: David Bowman. Tree Fallen From.”

  1. Nancy August 16, 2014 at 13:11 #

    A very talented writer! I want more!

  2. Michael Schaffer August 16, 2014 at 23:55 #

    Wow. Thoroughly enjoyed it. Well written

  3. jim e fendick August 18, 2014 at 16:43 #

    Very nice my friend a great piece . T
    hank you

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